Health experts warn students to be aware of monkeypox risk

RICHMOND, Va. — Victoria Board, a new transfer student at Virginia Commonwealth University, says she’s ready for another year, unhindered by a spreading virus.

“I’m ready for a fresh start,” Board said. “I’m trying to be a little careful but I don’t want this to deprive me of another year of school because I already lost it in high school. I’m trying to be careful but I’m trying also to live my life.”

Board and her friend Aniyah Mena, another transfer student, said a fresh start doesn’t come without fear that a virus like monkeypox could put things on hold.

“It definitely makes me want to stay inside more, in my dorm,” Mena said.

Freshman Logan Pagach said that while he’s nervous for the new year, he feels confident in his VCU’s mitigation strategies.

“It will definitely be a new life with a group of people in the dorms. I’m not too worried about it, I think they should be good on protocols and stuff,” Pagach said.

Since August 19, there are 249 reported cases of monkeypox in the Commonwealth. The Virginia Department of Health reports that 21 of those cases are in the central region.

WTVR

Dr Melissa Viray

Dr. Melissa Viray of the Richmond and Henrico Health Districts said her team is monitoring monkeypox transmission among students when they return to school.

“Many aspects of college life, such as living in close quarters, can potentially provide opportunities for transmission of monkeypox,” Dr. Viray said. “Living in a dorm is not necessarily something that we see as a risk in itself, it’s not like COVID-19 where we have a much easier transition from person to person.”

She asks students to be aware on campus, encouraging them to register for a vaccine if they are high risk and take precautions even if they are not.

“It’s a good idea to avoid sharing sheets, towels or clothing without washing them between uses, to keep them identified for an individual and not necessarily to share them without washing them between uses,” said said Dr. Viray.

In a statement to CBS 6, a spokesperson for VSU said the university continues “to provide our community with information and resources, in accordance with guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Virginia Department of Health.”

Even with caution, the Council encourages new students not to let fear of transmission get in the way of their time on campus.

“Join lots of clubs, meet lots of people, don’t try to stay in your dorm too long because then college won’t be as fun,” Board said.

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